Spammers are nothing if not smart copycats. Why write your own copy (text message) and come up with your own ideas for formatting emails when you can take ideas directly from valid emails? That exactly what I see happening more and more lately. Take this email for example:
This message contains images. If you don’t see images, click here to view
In case of no image, press here
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This message was sent from Naedaee to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have been sent The Uzqvaq because you have opted in to receive it.
Note: It may take our system up to two business days to process your unsubscribe request and during that time you may receive one or two more newsletters. Thank you for reading.
If you get an email like this and your spam filter doesn’t catch it (Gmail has GREAT spam filters! Plus you can use Gmail on your T-Mobile G1) you might need to look at it carefully. In this case I noticed the email was from me (odd, eh? mailing myself a newsletter!) Then I hovered over the links in the email and saw the website addresses ended with .cn (China). Red flags went up and I wouldn’ve sent that sucker to spam folder, except it was already there. Look at your emails before hitting that “If you don’t see images, click here to view” link and you might save yourself a lot of trouble. Normally I will freely visit .com, .net, .org, .us, .com.uk, and some others that I recognize. Whenever I see a weird one I’ll google it. For example if the domains were something orother.az I google .az domains and see what comes up. In this case its Azerbaijan which I still lump together with Russia, so any unexcepted email from there I’d mark as spam.
MORE, PLUS A LITTLE RANTING AND CONSPIRACY THEORIES
Now, I certainly did not opt in to receive any free newsletters from a Chinese website. No wonder I read about stuff like the recent mysterious virus that struck the FBI & U.S. Marshals Service and now NASA is pretty much constantly getting hacked! Emails like the one above are sent out and employees, regular Joes and Janes in our governments work force are freaking out and clicking the unsubscribe or feedback links to get themselves removed from the list or complain about being on the list they certainly did not subscribe to. But instead there is a chance that the web page they are taken to (which they probably do not even realize is a Chinese website) has a virus embedded into it or other goodies to identify or attempt to infect the computer of the person clicking the link. I can imagine the programming on a page like this:
Is the visitor from the US or a US-loving country?
– If the American or American-loving visitor is NOT at a secure location China would like to hack, try to damage the visitor’s computer.
– If the American or American-loving visitor IS at a secure location China would like to hack, then try to load software onto that computer.
– If the visitor is not from a US-loving country then display a harmless webpage.
Now I realize I am generalizing big time, because not all Chinese websites are bad. But certainly those that send spam are bad to some extent. Plus after reading those two articles above I can’t resist a little conspiracy theory. NASA is getting hacked on a regular basis and the FBI and US Marshals Service have been infected to some extent by a virus.